In Australia the material basis has certainly progressed to the degree of advanced means of production both in industry and agriculture where the relations of men to those means of production (division into the tiny minority of owners against the vast majority of non-owners) is definitely a fetter, barrier on the further development of those productive forces.
The process takes a particular form in Australia. It necessarily assumes an Australian character. That particular form is on the one hand, the owners of the decisive industries, that is the multinationals, the Australian “partners” of those multinationals, and the minor Australian monopoly capitalists, and on the other hand the biggest single class the working class employed in those industries, and gathered around it, other sections of the people.
That situation compels change. It compels extension of that socialised process of production into socialised ownership. Products socially produced by the workers must be owned by those workers and ordinary people. Then there is no barrier to restrict production. Production is no longer guided by profit of the handful of owners but by the requirements of the workers, who now own the means of production, and the other sections of the people around the workers. This is production for use and not for profit. The market is ever expanding; the productive forces are released to serve its requirements. Economic crisis is abolished because its cause is destroyed.
This is the basis for socialism.
Commonly the word “socialism” is used as a political trick. The Labor Parties are called “socialist”. It is suggested that countries with large welfare programmes are socialist or that nationalised industries are socialist, even that Australia with a Labor government is socialist. This has nothing to do with the scientific socialism dealt with here.
But there is a whole political process involved in the achievement of scientific socialism. To provide the necessary political solution requires a study of the real economic and social system in Australia and the politics to which that gives rise. It requires study of the theory of scientific socialism.
Socialism must be the aim, and after that the building of communism. But the struggle to achieve that has its own Australian characteristics determined by the actual (material) conditions in Australia. It will be necessary to consider this in greater detail. This involves the preliminary stage of anti-imperialist independence. However a word of explanation about socialism and communism. Socialism as a description of the relations of men to production means ownership by the workers of the means of production. The means of production as developed under capitalism are yet not so great that after the victory of socialism they can satisfy the needs of all the population. There are also large survivals of capitalist ideas. Socialism proceeds according to the maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.” That is, each works according to his ability and is paid according to the contribution he makes to the common effort. As men are unequal in their abilities they make different contributions. They are rewarded according to those different contributions. Under socialism the relations of production are no longer an antagonistic fetter on the development of the productive forces. Those productive forces can be developed in a historically rapid time. They develop to the stage where the material basis for unequal rewards is gradually eliminated. The productive forces become capable of satisfying all the needs of all the members of society. The maxim “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs,” the maxim of Communism, is realised.
Ideological reflection and struggle flow from changes in the productive forces and relations of production and in turn influence them.
The ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tsetung are the ideas of scientific socialism. They, like everything else have their material basis. They are not merely the arbitrary creation of these five men. They arose because mankind had by the middle of the 19th century evolved through a succession of changes in the productive forces, these had given rise to corresponding changes in the relations of production, the shape of the real change (to socialism) could be seen within capitalism by the very process of socialised production and its contradiction with individual ownership. Marx, and Engels, equipped as they were with the capacity to see the whole of historical, social evolution along with the development of natural science, deduced from their observation the general laws that governed development. Their observation showed that the facts and the movement of those facts obeyed certain definite laws. These laws they discerned and expounded.
In the case of capitalism their observation revealed the contradiction between the socialisation of the process of production and private appropriation. It showed that while in the change from feudalism to capitalism the revolutionary character of the advance in productive forces (the industrial revolution) had played a progressive role and called into being capitalist relations of production, now those capitalist relations of production were acting as a barrier to the further and continuing development of the productive forces. Those productive forces could only advance in a gigantic way if that barrier were removed. That barrier could only be removed by bringing the relations of men into conformity with the productive forces. That means that socialised production is carried into socialist relations of production. The social producers become the social owners. Marx and Engels described this process and showed that capitalism had called into being its own gravediggers – the working class.
Along with that, the old coercive state apparatus of the exploiters is ended. A new coercive state apparatus is built. This state apparatus reflects the new relations of production and serves the vast majority over the tiny minority.
This is the essence of socialist change.